London – Keeping an Eye on a city full of history
At 135 metres (433ft) tall, the London Eye is Europe’s tallest Ferris Wheel.
When first erected in 1999, the Eye was the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel, but it has since been surpassed by both the Star of Nanchang and the Singapore Flyer.
But what is really spectacular about the Millennium Wheel is the view from the top, and the history that view encapsulates.
Visitors can see around 40km (25 miles) from the top, as far as Windsor Castle, on a clear day.
But there are plenty of other sites closer by.
Among them is Sir Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral, which was the tallest building in London from its construction after the Great Fire of 1666 until only just over 30 years ago, or for those who prefer more modern monuments there is the easily recognisable Swiss Re building – more commonly knows as the ‘Gherkin’.
Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London can also be spotted, along with the British Museum, where – among others – Charles Dickens and Karl Marx once studied.
Sightseers will also spot the Palace of Westminster, and enjoy the chance to peer at the heart of the British Government, from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben to government buildings in Whitehall and Buckingham Palace at the end of the Mall.
Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, and parks stretching from the Palace Gardens to St James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park will also catch visitors’ eyes.
Just below the Eye, on the north bank, is Cleopatra’s Needle, which must be London’s oldest monument, having started life in ancient Egypt.
Each rotation of the wheel takes about 30 minutes, meaning a capsule travels at a stately 26cm per second, or 0.9km (0.6 miles) per hour.
That’s a good chunk of London history at only twice as speed of a sprinting tortoise.